Demerec Laboratory

Centerbrook designed a complete renovation of the mid-century Demerec Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Once the future of the historic research institution, and home to four Nobel Laureates, the building will return to prominence through modernization as the Center for Therapeutic Research.


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Location Cold Spring Harbor, NY
Size 25,000 Sq. Ft.
Features renovation
Program laboratories
Year Completed 2017
Photo Credit Centerbrook
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This project renovates the original building, restoring its form and cast-in-place exterior, demolishes two of its three additions, and constructs a new three-story addition. The 25,000-square-foot facility embraces the 1950s design and will house four wet labs, one chemistry lab, a tissue culture lab, a glassware kitchen, cold rooms, freezer rooms, conference rooms, as well as principal investigator and post-doc offices.

The historic structure’s 11-foot floor-to-floor heights present a significant challenge to installing modern laboratory HVAC systems, requiring innovative mechanical solutions. The high efficiency design employs geothermal heating and cooling and other advanced sustainable strategies.

The building is named in honor of Milislav Demerec, a renowned geneticist who established Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s prominence in the fledgling field of molecular biology. Under his leadership, CSHL built its first building dedicated to research in 1953, later named Demerec Laboratory. The original 16,000-square-foot facility consisted of two reinforced concrete structures connected by a modern glass circulation tower and stair.

Centerbrook designed additions in the 1980s that added laboratory, office, and administrative space that obscured the original mid-century modern structure, deemed inconsistent with the campus’s whaling village aesthetic. But because it has housed some of the CSHL’s most influential researchers, the building is beloved. It is through this project that Demerec Laboratory will undergo a full-circle transformation.